India vs Australia: Ishant Sharma injury a big blow, says Pathan

Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan feels Ishant's absence could hurt India as he is a seasoned campaigner who can generate the required bounce on Australian wickets.

Ishant Sharma is also three shy of playing 100 Test matches for India.   -  REUTERS

Touring Australia is not an easy job. The visiting teams find the on-field contest challenging but the mind games start before the first ball is bowled.

As India gears up for a long series, which begins on Friday with the first ODI in Sydney against the mighty Aussies, it has plenty to ponder.

It will be the first international assignment for the team since March, and there are doubts regarding the availability of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma for the Tests in December. Both the cricketers are still undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru after picking up injuries during the Indian Premier League. And the absence of Virat Kohli, who will be on paternity leave after the first Test, will provide an edge to the Aussies.

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Former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan believes that in such a situation, India will need collective effort to tame the Aussies at home. Having enjoyed success in Australia in his playing days, Pathan feels it is also important to not think too much about the ‘negatives’.

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“It will be a challenging tour for sure because Australia is a tough place to play cricket. The absence of the important players will also make a huge impact. But this will be a test of character for the Indian team,” Pathan told Sportstar.

“Your main guys are not there, so if India has to win in Australia, the team has to play really well as an unit. It will not depend on one or two guys.”

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Pathan admits that the absence of a genuine pacer like Ishant will hurt India. “Ishant’s injury is a big blow as well because he is an experienced campaigner. The kind of flight and the bounce he generates, that actually helps in playing in Australia. He also guides others to gain confidence,” he said.

Irfan Pathan (right) and Ishant Sharma back in the day. (FILE PHOTO/K. BHAGYA PRAKASH)   -  K. BHAGYA PRAKASH


While the availability of players remains a concern, there are doubts on how things will pan out as this will be India’s first tour since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. But Pathan isn’t too worried.

“I would have been worried had Indian cricketers not played any kind of cricket. They have played two months of IPL, so they have bowled for at least four overs. But yes, workload will be the key…”

“Ideally, you should be transitioning from one day cricket to Test cricket. It’s a bigger jump when you shift formats from T20s to Tests, because you are bowling four overs, and then suddenly you are expected to bowl 20 overs. It is challenging. Sudden change in format could led to injuries. But then, they have some time to prepare,” Pathan said.

Ever since reaching Sydney, the team had to quarantine for 14 days, even though it was allowed to train in a bio-bubble. And in the long tour, it will also be a challenge to stay motivated inside the bubble. “Whenever we would go for long tours to Australia, we would go out for meals, hang out. We had that freedom, but this time, that’s not there. But players around the world have accepted the fact that this is how things are and we need to get used to it,” Pathan said.

“The team management will also have a key role to play in terms of keeping the players motivated. It is important to maintain a happy space and in case someone needs attention, they should take care of it,” he said.

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